The word “stalker” has been trivialized by teen lingo and silver screens, divorced from danger and urgency by a sensationalized familiarity. However, the public’s misguided perception of stalking is sharply contrasted by its frightening reality, relevance and gravity. What may at first seem like creepy annoyance or light harassment can in fact be the beginnings of a relationship so distorted that it ends in emotional trauma, violence or even murder. In fact, stalking is considered so serious by the law that, matching the right criteria, it is recognized as a crime punishable by fines and jail time. Today we’ll be exposing the seriousness of stalking.
What Qualifies As Stalking?
New Jersey statute 2C:12-10 defines stalking as “…repeatedly maintaining a visual or physical proximity to a person; directly, indirectly, or through third parties, by any action, method, device, or means, following, monitoring, observing, surveilling, threatening, or communicating to or about, a person, or interfering with a person’s property; repeatedly committing harassment against a person; or repeatedly conveying, or causing to be conveyed, verbal or written threats or threats conveyed by any other means of communication or threats implied by conduct or a combination thereof directed at or toward a person.” Depending on the conditions of stalking, it can be considered either a 3rd or 4th degree crime.
The following statistics further demonstrate just how widespread and serious stalking is, and why disregarding the signals can have dangerous and even fatal consequences:
- Annually, over 1 million women and almost 380,000 men suffer from being stalked
- Though stalking can happen to anyone, 78% of stalking victims are women while 87% of offenders are men
- Most stalking cases involve victims and perpetrators who know each other, often from intimate relationships
- Adults between the ages of 18 and 29 are the most common victims of stalking
- 76% of women murdered by an intimate partner were stalked first; 85% of women who survived murder attempts were stalked beforehand
- 54% of female homicide victims reported stalking to the police before they were killed by their stalkers
The Importance of Exposing the Seriousness of Stalking
The above statistics indicate the extreme gravity of stalking, and the unacceptable attitude toward it – especially when it comes to responding to reports of stalking. However, law enforcement can only accomplish so much, and the sad reality is that most victims of stalking never even report being stalked in the first place. In large part, this is because people being stalked feel trapped in a cycle of personal fear that seems too nebulous to report, particularly when the stalker is someone they’ve known intimately. If you’re involved in either side of a stalking case, it’s advisable that you seek legal counsel. Because conviction for stalking hinges on a series of variables, many of which are difficult to prove, a good defense lawyer can save you from sentencing. Mark Catanzaro has experience in most criminal matters, including stalking, so trust your defense to Catanzaro Law today!